PEARL iZUMi was borne from love. Like, really. The story goes that in 1964, in Japan, a father made a jersey for his cyclist son. For years, people wrapped the story around racing, performance and the will to win—all things we fully stand behind. But before he passed, we asked Mr. Kinji Shimizu, if the legend was true.
Yes, Mr. Shimizu created a jersey for his son based on months of studying fabric technology and kinesiology. But it was just a physical gift. What Mr. Shimizu was truly giving his son was a message of unwavering support. The jersey was the physical representation of a man’s belief in his son’s potential. It was a gift of love for the present and for the future.
It’s often said that our lives are measured not by what we acquire, but what we give to our families, our friends and the world. At PEARL iZUMi, we think that applies to our brand, too.
Maybe you don’t look to your cycling gear for that. We hear you. But we have 95 employees who show up every day wanting to do more than just make the best performing gear. They want to make a difference. They want their life’s work to represent both their love of cycling and the world around them.
“The need and excitement for a social purpose were already deeply embedded in our organization,” says Geoff Shaffer, VP of global brand marketing, “When the timing was right, it just bubbled up. It was a truly organic effort.”
When we formalized our mission to unlock the power of inspiration and impact, we needed to also define what that meant to us—as individuals and as a brand.
Five values ground the PEARL iZUMi approach
Every action we take is measured against these values. If it falls short, we’ll change course. It’s that simple.
When our team identified these five values, one had particular energy behind it. Impact validated deeply held beliefs that hadn’t previously been recognized at a formal level.
Very simply, it means that we strive to have a net positive impact on the world. We aim to reduce consumption and deliver more. We will do more as advocates for the next generations, and vow to think big around how we can do good in the world.
Ride more, do more, evolves from impact
“Our social purpose to ‘Ride more, do more’, grew out of impact,” says Shaffer. “We had been doing a lot of work in that arena, but we hadn’t put the framework of the social purpose around it. Doing so gives all of us ownership and an opportunity to dive deep and do what’s right for PEARL iZUMi, our riders and the planet.”
“We think we have an opportunity to be a leader in the cycling industry around social and environmental performance,” says Shaffer. “If that’s the case, though, it’ll be a by-product of the real incentive. We’re doing it because it’s right for us as a brand and it’s right for us as employees. What’s most important is that we do it our way, and by our own carefully defined criteria.”
We’ve begun with a vision, and now we’re in the critical steps of determining programs and goals.
“We’ve shared our social purpose statement as our commitment to ride more and do more,” says Shaffer. “We’re in the process of determining tangible goals, and we’ll need to work hard to accomplish them. Of equal importance, a huge part of this commitment is measuring and transparently sharing our results.”
So where are we now?
We’ve established three internal teams to tackle different initiatives under the scope of our social purpose, focusing on product, business practices, and advocacy. These teams will identify programs and recommend solutions toward improving our net positive impact.
In mid-September, the teams presented ideas for impact-based programs to a committee. That committee is in the process of evaluating these first-round ideas based on how well they support the mission, values, and goals of PEARL iZUMi. Importantly, the committee is tasked with finding the money and manpower for the best proposals.
“We’re definitely moving forward, but we’re doing so deliberately,” says Shaffer. “We need to provide guidance and support so these programs will have longevity and meaningful results.”
We’ll be announcing some of the initial programs in real time, in the coming months. Please stay tuned, help us gauge our progress and direction, and let us know your thoughts.
Full circle to the future
We don’t know if Mr. Shimizu’s son won the next race in his new jersey. But we do know he went on to enjoy a lifetime of cycling, both in competition and in pure love of the sport.
Though that jersey ultimately launched PEARL iZUMi as a brand, even we’re not going to claim it made his son a better rider. He probably rode just as fast, if not a lot more comfortably. But father and son knew it was about more than a single race. It was about giving the next generation permission and support to pursue their own dreams.
Over 60 years later, we still believe in the power of that gift. And we hope to foster a world where the next generations’ dreams flourish.